Arstechnica brings us an article that details Congress (who just ended their 109th session of doing keg stands with Ted Kennedy) having just denied the changes (authored by the man in the picture above, Ted “The Internet Is A Series Of Things I Totally Don’t Understand” Stevens) to the 1996 Telecommunications Act that would have made the Internet a much lamer place for all of us. Now if they could just stop molesting underage boys and murdering aides, I’d finally have someone to look up to in government!
In a nutshell, Net Neutrality is what allows you and I to play games and access websites all over the net in a timely, useful fashion. Some old, rich, white guys, who are good friends with the wealthy telecom zaibatsus (your ISP, cable company and phone company) decided that various ISPs should be allowed to throttle traffic to web sites based on a toll structure. Functionally, if Google didn’t pay a set amount of money, you would have a lot of trouble getting there from your home computer, PSP, or Apple iToaster. If this all sounds like legalized extortion, that’s because it’s exactly that.
Now, if god-like mega-corporations can be threatened by this idea, how well do you imagine smaller game companies who just wanted to set up some servers for people to play their games on would fair? Yeah, that’s right, if Ubisoft or Epic or Vivendi didn’t pay whatever fees your ISP individually set up, you couldn’t play online. Since the fee structure and variance was up to each ISP, it would have almost certainly shut down all but the most determined developer’s ambitions of adding online multiplayer to their games.
Thankfully, thanks to the work of people like the EFF (of whom I am a member), and probably Jesus, Congress saw this for what it was and struck it down. While it’s entirely possible that this could be reintroduced, it’s uncommon to see these things succeed once they’ve been voted down.
I’m going to be spending the day down at the bar celebrating this momentous occasion. If anyone is in the area of a bottle of liquor, I hereby grant you permission to drink it*.
* — Offer may not be valid for recovering alcoholics, minors or the Irish.